(Trinidad Express) A worrying increase in Covid-19 coronavirus infections has resulted in a rollback in public health measures to reduce public exposure of risk.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced today that Trinidad and Tobago had reached community spread and it was time to take action.
He said schools and all teaching institutions will remain closed at least until December 31.
Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) examination, however, will remain on August 20.
For the next 28 days, Rowley said, starting at 6am on Monday all in-house dining at restaurant and bars will cease including food courts at malls. These food establishments will be allowed to sell take-out.
He also announced the closure of beaches and rivers, places of worship, gyms, contact sports, water parks, casinos and members clubs and cinemas.
Rowley said authorised gatherings of persons outside of homes will be no more than five.
Persons attending weddings and funerals will be reduced to 10. (Not ten at a time. A total of ten).
He said maxi taxi and taxis will be allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity.
Travel to Tobago will also be restricted to essentials.
The prime minister made the announcements at the Diplomatic Centre in Port-of-Spain, as he delivered his first public address since being elected for a second term.
He said, “If these activities do not get the level of observance as we expect and numbers get far worse, even after we have done this, the next situation is to go into more complete closure. It is very important that what we are doing now is done to the letter so we don’t find ourselves in a situation where we have to do in the lockdown.”
Rowley said he was having discussions with the Attorney General on what action will take with respect to mandatory use of face mask.
The People’s National Movement (PNM) won the August 10 general election 22/19 last Monday. However, a Cabinet has not yet been sworn in as the United National Congress (UNC) has requested a recount in five marginal seats.
As at Saturday afternoon, the Ministry of Health reported 474 Covid-19 positive cases. Two deaths were reported on Friday, an elderly woman and a man.
The total number of deaths now stands at 10.
The second wave of the Covid-19 coronavirus began in July, with daily increases in positive cases.
THESE ARE THE MEASURES
SEA students will come out of August 20, and write that exam.
-All inhouse dining at restaurant and bars are to cease, along with dining at food courts and malls. Only purchase and take away will be allowed. You can buy your drink and leave.
-Beaches and rivers are to close to the public.
– All places of worship are to close.
– All gyms are to close.
– All water parks are to close.
– Casinos and members clubs are to close.
– Gatherings outside of the homes are to be no more than five people.
– Only ten people will be allowed at weddings and funerals
– Maxis and taxis are to operate at 50 per cent capacity.
– The availability of travel to Tobago will be reduced on the air and sea bridge.
– All teaching institutions are to remain closed until further notice.
– It appears this this will go on to at least December.
– The first school term is likely lost.
– The AG is being consulted to make the wearing of masks mandatory, so that criminal action can be taken against those who do not wear it.
Those not wearing mask are endangering the country, said Rowley.
People will be asked to stay home and avoid people.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh appealed that people not go for a last drink tonight and Sunday and act as though the lockdown was in place now.
He also asked that people not invite groups to their homes for parties and get-togethers.
It was also disclosed that the Caribbean Premier League cricket tournament will continue.
Rowley said that by cooperating, the life saved may be your own.
He said that at more stringent measure may have to be taken if the numbers continue to rise.
As of Saturday afternoon, the Health Ministry reports the following:
Number of samples submitted to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the UWI site for testing for COVID-19 13,398
Number of samples which have tested positive at public and private facilities in Trinidad and Tobago 497
Total number of active cases 348
Number of deaths 10
Number of persons discharged 139
The Ministry of Health provides the following update:
• Twenty-three (23) additional persons have tested positive for COVID-19.
o Thirteen (13) are contacts of recently positive COVID-19 cases
o Ten (10) are pending epidemiological investigation.